By Russell Bennett
Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend and coral belt Julio Cesar Pereira headed along to Pakenham’s Gracie Elite academy last week to take it’s a number of its members through their paces.
Julio Cesar’s astonishing list of achievements and accolades speaks for itself – the co-founder of GFT (Grappling Fight Team), he’s an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) world champion and Brazilian national champion in his own right.
He’s also coached multiple-time IBJJF world champion Rodolfo Vieira, who’s now plying his trade in the famed Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Julio Cesar got his own start in the sport way back in 1974. He’s a 7th-degree coral belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and earned his coral belt for his time served as a black belt in the discipline over a period of more than 30 years.
He’s made a number of visits to Melbourne, and Jhunior Guarnido’s Gracie Elite academy, over the years – and explained last week that he’s thrilled to see how the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu has evolved in the area over that time.
“The first time he came here was seven years ago, and he keeps coming back every year-and-a-half, two years,” said Guarnido, translating for Julio Cesar.
“Every time he comes back, the sport has become bigger and bigger.”
Of the sport’s evolution over recent years, Julio Cesar said participants in local gyms have noticed how Brazilian jiu-jitsu has helped them achieve a better work-life balance.
“If you’re having problems at work, you’ll come to the gym at night and train and release all that stress, and then just relax,” he said.
“For people just training, but also for the athletes involved, the sport has evolved a lot.”
And, clearly, there are world-class athletes emerging in the discipline out of Melbourne.
“A lot of really good black belts have come to Australia from Brazil and improved the sport,” he explained.
In Australia, and Melbourne more specifically, the sport is highly-respected, and so is the region’s highly-qualified trainers and coaches.
At the seminar last week at Gracie Elite, Julio Cesar and Jhunior Guarnido focussed on teaching the finer points of the top game (how to pass guard for Brazilian jiu-jitsu), after last time focusing on the bottom game (guard for Brazilian jiu-jitsu).
“But no matter your belt or your age, you’re always learning in jiu-jitsu,” he said.
“The only difference with my belt is that I started first.
“I learn from Jhunior and he learns from me.”